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Coskun, Ömer K.; Gomez-Saez, Gonzalo V.; Beren, Murat; Ozcan, Dogacan; Günay, Suna D.; Elkin, Viktor; Hosgormez, Hakan; Einsiedl, Florian; Eisenreich, Wolfgang; Orsi, William D (2024): Quantifying genome specific carbon fixation in a 750 meter deep subsurface hydrothermal microbial community. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. ISSN 1574-6941

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Dissolved inorganic carbon has been hypothesized to stimulate microbial chemoautotrophic activity as a biological sink in the carbon cycle of deep subsurface environments. Here, we tested this hypothesis using quantitative DNA stable isotope probing of metagenome assembled genomes (MAGs) at multiple 13C-labeled bicarbonate concentrations in hydrothermal fluids from a 750 meter deep subsurface aquifer in the Biga Peninsula (Turkey). The diversity of microbial populations assimilating 13C-labeled bicarbonate was significantly different at higher bicarbonate concentrations, and could be linked to four separate carbon fixation pathways encoded within 13C-labeled MAGs. Microbial populations encoding the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle had the highest contribution to carbon fixation across all bicarbonate concentrations tested, spanning 1–10 mM. However, out of all the active carbon fixation pathways detected, MAGs affiliated with the phylum Aquificae encoding the reverse tricarboxylic acid (rTCA) pathway were the only microbial populations that exhibited an increased 13C-bicarbonate assimilation under increasing bicarbonate concentrations. Our study provides the first experimental data supporting predictions that increased bicarbonate concentrations may promote chemoautotrophy via the rTCA cycle and its biological sink for deep subsurface inorganic carbon.

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